- The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and there was a flurry of action late.
- Big names to be traded include Andre Drummond, D’Angelo Russell, Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Morris, and Andre Iguodala.
- We have a look at the winners and losers of this deadline, with praise for teams like the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves, and skepticism about moves the Detroit Pistons and Western Conference teams made.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and there was some action after some insiders predicted a quiet year.
The big names traded include Andre Drummond, D’Angelo Russell, Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Morris, and Andre Iguodala. As usual, there is plenty of fallout to sort through, and the results of some of these trades may not be known for years down the line.
Still, we have an early look at the biggest winners and losers at this year’s trade deadline.
Options trading WINNER: Miami Heat
Why they’re winners: The Heat, the fourth seed in the East at 34-16, added some needed veteran and wing depth at the deadline, thanks to a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Heat added veteran forward Andre Iguodala and forwards Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill in exchange for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, and James Johnson.
The Heat not only added some perimeter defense, shooting, and playmaking, they also shed over $40 million in salary for the 2020-21 season, when they plan to compete in a big free agent class, according to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton. Because of injury and rotations, Winslow, Waiters, and Johnson hardly played for the Heat this year. They now have a deeper, more experienced lineup, with flexibility going forward.
Options trading LOSER: Detroit Pistons
Why they’re losers: The Pistons made one of the biggest moves of the deadline, trading center Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The return… is not so big. The Pistons received veteran point guard Brandon Knight, reserve center John Henson, and a second-round pick from the Cavs. Henson and Knight play limited minutes and average a combined 10 points per game.
This is the return for a center averaging (rounded) 18 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks per game? Drummond’s stats can be a bit empty; it’s not clear he impacts winning all that much. But there must have been a better deal out there somewhere, right? Drummond can hit free agency this offseason or opt into a $28 million option for 2020-21.
Options trading WINNER: Andre Iguodala
Why he’s a winner: After being traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason, Iguodala has sat out the entire regular season, waiting to be traded to a contender, even as the Grizzlies surged into the playoff race.
For his patience, he was traded to a playoff team in Miami, and also received a two-year, $30 million extension. Well played.
Options trading LOSER: Western Conference contenders
Why they’re losers: Sure, the Houston Rockets added Robert Covington. The Denver Nuggets made some moves on the fringes. But nobody closed the gap on the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers. The Clippers added forward Marcus Morris at the deadline, and the Lakers look like the favorite team for buyout additions. As of now, the Rockets, Jazz, Nuggets, and Mavs all look to be in a lower tier than the LA powerhouses.
Options trading WINNER: Minnesota Timberwolves
Why they’re winners: The Wolves finally got their man, D’Angelo Russell, in a trade with the Golden State Warriors. The Wolves have lusted after Russell for months and now add him to a backcourt in desperate need of playmaking and scoring. Not only should the talent upgrade help, he is friends with Karl-Anthony Towns, who was becoming increasingly disenfranchised with the state of the team. In the process, the Wolves moved Andrew Wiggins and the three years, $95 million remaining on his deal.
Options trading LOSER: P.J. Tucker
Why he’s a loser: The Rockets traded starting center Clint Capela in a deal that brought back three-and-D forward Robert Covington. In the process, the Rockets went all-in on small ball. That likely means more minutes at center for P.J. Tucker, a stout defender and rebounder who has manned the position well before, but is also just 6-foot-5. According to Basketball-Reference, Tucker already plays 33% of his minutes at center. Unless the Rockets add a center through the buyout market, Tucker will be playing the five a lot more often, something that will take a physical toll.
Options trading WINNER: Andrew Wiggins
Why he’s a winner: Wiggins was traded to the Golden State Warriors, ending an up-and-down five-plus years with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The fresh start and infrastructure of the Warriors should be good for him — they appear to be betting on turning around his career. If nothing else, he moves from Minneapolis in February to San Francisco.
Options trading LOSER: Isaiah Thomas
Why he’s a loser: It’s been a rocky few years for Thomas ever since he was traded from the Boston Celtics. Thomas hasn’t returned to All-Star form, but with the Washington Wizards, he was averaging 12 points and 3 assists per game on 41% shooting from three in 23 minutes per game. He was traded to the Clippers in the Marcus Morris deal, but early reports suggest the Clippers plan to waive him. Thomas has played for four teams in three years. It’s unclear if anyone will pick him up.
Options trading WINNER: The New York Knicks … No, really!
Why they’re winners: Somehow, in the midst of firing team president Steve Mills, then reportedly agreeing to a deal with power agent Leon Rose for the position in the week of the trade deadline, the Knicks made a good deal. They sent leading scorer Marcus Morris to the LA Clippers for a package of guard-forward Moe Harkless, a 2020 first-round pick, rights to swap picks in 2021, and a 2021 second-round pick. Morris is a free agent this summer. The Knicks wisely capitalized on his career year, sending him to a contender for a solid return of assets to use in later deals. Credit to GM Scott Perry for managing amid the chaos.
Options trading LOSER: The 2020 free agent class
Why they’re losers: The 2020 free agent class was already shaping up to be a weak one. Last summer was a massive summer that saw nearly half the league hit the open market, many of them inking multi-year deals. Some players set to become free agents in July 2020 inked extensions. This trade deadline saw some teams add salary. According to the website Early Bird Rights, only five teams are projected to have cap space this summer — the Hawks, Hornets, Pistons, Heat, and Knicks. Many teams will hoard cap space for the big free agent class of 2021. Don’t be surprised if some pending free agents take players options for the 2020-21 season or sign short-term deals to hit free agency again when more teams want to spend money.
Options trading WINNER: Milwaukee Bucks
Why they’re winners: The league-leading Milwaukee Bucks are in a class to themselves in the East, 6.5 games ahead of the second-place Raptors. The Heat made moves, yes, but not ones that are likely to catapult them into the Bucks’ tier. With the likes of the Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, and Philadelphia 76ers mostly standing pat, the Bucks should remain in control of the first seed and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
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